by Javier ManjarresThe Republican Party of Florida’s Presidency 5 straw poll results have taken millions of Americans by surprise, as the two front runners in Republican primary race- Rick Perry and Mitt Romney- finished 2nd and 3rd to businessman Herman Cain. Until this point, Cain was considered amongst the “second tier” of Presidential candidates but also a well-liked personality throughout the conservative base of the Republican Party.
Many political analysts credited Perry’s strategic decision to delay the announcement of his candidacy and skip out on the Iowa Straw polls- perhaps he should have downplayed his campaign’s efforts in this straw poll as well, as Cain’s win handed Perry the biggest public relations loss of the weekend. One way to interpret Cain’s win is that it is a signal that the Republican electorate is not only paying close attention to all of the candidates, but they’re searching hard for a candidate that best represents their views and values who is not a typical career politician.
Perry was considered the pre-straw poll favorite, but he fumbled the political football in last week’s Republican Presidential debate in Orlando when he failed to sharpen his attacks on Romney and also gave a very unpopular answer on the issue his decision to grant in-state tuition for illegals. Another mistake that both Perry and Romney made was to dip out of the weekend’s events early and not personally address the P5 delegates prior to the straw poll- something Herman Cain did do. Governor Romney had previously stated that he would not actively compete in the straw poll, but Perry went on record of stating that the P5 straw poll was “very important” to his campaign, and as a result many were left baffled after Perry decided to leave early, cancel interviews, and not address Florida’s delegates.
The consensus from many conservative delegates who were supporting Perry after his lackluster debate performance but before the straw poll was that they were “on the fence” but still willing to give him the chance to bounce back. But Herman Cain’s electrifying address to the delegates won many of the Perry faithful over, at least as far as the straw poll was concerned.
After Cain’s speech and just prior to the ballots being cast, many of Perry’s supporters said that they were disappointed that he did not take the opportunity to address them like Cain did and decided to cast their votes for Cain. Other Perry supporters said that they lost a certain degree of faith in Perry’s candidacy after his debate performance and would give a second look at Santorum, Bachman and Cain. But was most telling of all was the fact that almost ‘all’ of these Perry supporters now have reservations about Perry’s candidacy that they didn’t have previously and said that they would support anyone but Governor Mitt Romney in the Republican Primary.Romney, who was the race’s first “front runner” until Perry announced, could very well be at the top of the pack again as Republicans are giving second thought to the matter of electability and who they feel is in best position to beat President Barack Obama. Even though Cain produced an impressive margin of victory in this straw poll, many feel that this result was not a reflection of a an actual groundswell of support for Cain so much as it an expression of dissatisfaction with the entire field of candidates- along with a protest vote against Perry’s status as the front runner.
So while the straw poll results were a stunner, Perry and Romney still remain the front runners in the race with a decided edge over the rest of the field. Two big questions that remain- will any of the second tier candidates, including Cain move up into the first tier to challenge Perry and Romney’s support, and could potential candidates like New Jersey Governor Chris Christie or former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin attempt to steal the show at this late hour with late arriving candidacies?
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